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Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
(ETD; Barotitis Media; Ear Popping; Pressure-related Ear Pain)
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- Inability of the tiny hairs inside the ear to remove fluid and infection
- Poor squeezing function within the eustachian tube
- Narrow eustachian tube—in infants
- Adenoid tissue blocking eustachian tube—in children
- Swollen nasal secretions that cause a blockage
- Tumors—in adults
- Feeling of fullness or clogging in the ear
- Discomfort or pain in the ear
- Hearing loss
- Ringing in the ear
- A sensation of spinning known as vertigo
- Symptoms that cannot be relieved by swallowing, yawning, or chewing
- Pain if the blockage results in an infection
- Swallowing, yawning, or chewing gum to relieve the pressure
- Clearing your ears by breathing in and then gently breathing out while holding your nostrils and mouth closed
- Blowing up balloons or inflation devices
- Oral antihistamines if allergies are present
- Nasal steroids to relieve nasal congestion and swelling to enable the eustachian tube to open
- Pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
- Brief (3 days or less) use of nasal or oral decongestants
- Treat allergies as advised by your doctor.
- Avoid flying in an airplane or going scuba diving if you have allergies or a cold.
- Use decongestants or antihistamines if you have an allergy or a cold.
- Yawn or chew gum. Encourage swallowing by sucking on hard candy or drinking water.
- When taking off and landing, clear your ears by breathing in and then gently breathing out while holding your nostrils and mouth closed.
- Try special earplugs that slowly equalize the pressure in your ear. These earplugs can be found at drugstores and airports.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 09/2016
- Update Date: 09/17/2015